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Traveling Light

Cover of Traveling Light

Traveling Light

From the New York Times bestselling author and "masterful storyteller"* behind The Art of Arranging Flowers comes a new novel about the search for what really matters in life...

Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man's ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn't exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it's exactly what she needs...

It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart's remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life.

She isn't wrong.

Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa's eyes to the road in front of her—and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming...
READERS GUIDE INSIDE

*Darien Gee, international bestselling author
From the New York Times bestselling author and "masterful storyteller"* behind The Art of Arranging Flowers comes a new novel about the search for what really matters in life...

Driving from North Carolina to New Mexico with her three-legged dog, a strange man's ashes, and a waitress named Blossom riding shotgun isn't exactly what Alissa Wells ever wanted to be doing. But it's exactly what she needs...

It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart's remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life.

She isn't wrong.

Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa's eyes to the road in front of her—and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming...
READERS GUIDE INSIDE

*Darien Gee, international bestselling author
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  • From the book Chapter One

    The only thing I remember about Mama was how she was always moving. Years before the small tumor grew, the mania finally linked to the cancer in her brain, Mama never stopped moving. I think it wore Daddy out, but I loved it. I loved her. The way she danced while she cooked our breakfast, pancakes delivered to the table as if she were a rock star shimmying to the final notes of the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," the way she lifted my sister from the crib, twirling her the whole time with me straddling her foot, clinging to her leg. She would sweep and sing, stopping just long enough to clutch the broom like a diva with her microphone. She'd change the furniture in the living room, giving us new hiding places for another round of hide-and-seek, and she would strap both of us in the backseat of that old station wagon and drive to the ocean or south to White Lake or even all the way to Asheville and the cold, foggy Blue Ridge Mountains and their twisting, curvy roads. She could not stay still.

    Of course, I never knew she was sick or exhausted. I never knew that the dancing and the spinning and the driving and the darting from one place to another were a symptoms of illness. I thought she was immortal. I thought I was the luckiest child alive to have a mother always buying new paint sets and giving us long rolls of white paper to decorate, a mother who seemed to know the most beautiful spots for girls-only picnics, a mother who was able to balance on her toes while she hung the sheets on the line in the backyard, calling us to come and smell the sunshine caught in the wide stretch of fabric. I thought the movement and the action were simply a part of the great adventure of life, of childhood; and I woke up every morning wondering what she had planned for that day and how she would dance my sister and me through every minute of it.

    And then, one day in the spring of my fifth year, she simply stopped moving. She stopped dancing and spinning and changing the pictures on the walls and cleaning the house from ceiling to floor, finding coins and sliding them into our palms, telling us they were gifts from angels; and suddenly everything I knew about being a child-every step, every movement, every lift and twirl-came to an abrupt and unexpected halt. Everything just stopped. The music, the dancing, the laughter, the games, the unlimited extravaganza of our imaginations, all of it seemed to freeze in time, all of us standing in the wake of her death, paralyzed by our loss.

    And now, thirty years after she died, I realize I haven't moved an inch since then. At the age of five I sat down in my life; I took my mother's place in raising my sister and caring for my father and keeping the house neat and clean with only scant movements and no flair and I never stepped away. Until now. Until I pulled open the big overhead door on that storage unit in Wilmington and pilfered through the cartons of driftwood and the bins of tools and the baskets of rope and the stacks of boating magazines, blankets, and camping equipment, all the way to the back, and found the box. The box I see now placed in the passenger's seat of Faramond, my old Volkswagen Bug that Daddy bought for me at my high school graduation, giving me the permission to leave which I did not take. The box of ashes with a business card and a receipt from the Serenity Mortuary in Grants, New Mexico, taped on top. This box of ashes that is now sending me away from my home. This box of ashes that is finally making me move.

    Exactly nine weeks ago I entered my name and random bid in the storage war meant to be a promotion for a television station in Raleigh. I had seen the reality show that was...
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Traveling Light
Traveling Light
Lynne Branard
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